My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I have an immense amount of respect for Stephen King and that is the main reason I picked up this book. “The best horror novel of the new century.” said the master of horror. I’m sorry Mr. King, but I disagree. Yes, there were some elements of this book that were extraordinary. But they were not enough to balance an unnecessarily slow start during which I found I didn’t really care much about any of the six people who the story follows as they make one mistake after another on the way to disaster. There was a lot of character development, but none of it helped me invest any emotion to be spent when horrible things happen to them later in the story. And what happens to them does make one squirm, no doubt about it. Looking for blood and guts? Skip to the last 150 pages, you’ll get plenty.
The writing in parts of this novel is as good as you will find in this genre. But Mr. King would have had us caring about these characters in fewer words, and used the savings to torture us all the more in the meat of the story. The blurbs that Mr. Smith attracted almost seem to have been written about a different book entirely. Even the title leads the reader astray. “The Ruins” would indicate something elaborate, worthy of curiosity and exploration. Be warned… it is only a hole in the ground, and one that is scarcely described. A more honest title would have been “The Plant-Covered Hill”… boring, but true.